Diversity on College Campuses Today: The Growing Need to Foster Campus Environments Capable of Countering a Possible "Tipping Effect"

Article excerpt

This article compared the rates of 1) racial tension and 2) interracial friendships and dating at two comparable institutions of higher learning in the Northeastern United States, one relatively homogeneous and the other more heterogeneous in terms of race/ethnicity. The results of a survey of students at the two schools indicate a possible "tipping" effect among on-campus residents at the more diverse school due to the relatively high number of minority students, particularly blacks, living on that campus. On the other hand, white commuters at the more racially/ethnically heterogeneous school have more interracial friends and have dated more often across racial and ethnic lines than students at the relatively homogeneous college.

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Today, most colleges across the United States exert every effort to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of their student bodies. The 1998 report of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) states that "diversity is an integral part of educational excellence." Recent studies on the effects of affirmative action reveal that the growing emphasis on diversity on college campuses is educationally sound and can benefit both racial minority and white students (e.g. Alger, 1998; Bowen and Bok, 1998; Gurin, 1999). This pro-affirmative action research indicates that students in racially diverse institutions of higher learning have a broader understanding and openness towards diversity in society (Pascarella et al, Whitt, Nora, Edison, Hagedorn, and Terenzini, 1996), become better citizens (Bowen and Bok, 1999; Gurin, 1999), and are more likely to have friends of other races after college (Gurin, 1999) than students at racially homogeneous colleges and universities. Responding to these studies and the larger multicultural movements, colleges and universities are beginning to analyze themselves and push themselves to strive harder to attain a truly diverse student and faculty population (e.g. The March 1999, University of Rochester's "Report of the Residential College Commission Subcommittee on Diversity").

Another strain of research, however, warns of a possible "tipping effect," saying that segregation actually increases as larger numbers of a minority group move into an area (Grodzins, 1957; Schelling, 1978; Glazer 1995). Merely adding more racial minorities to a campus, without also creating a positive racial environment can lead to increased racial tensions (Chang,

As can be seen from the schedule, tutors could kept to the same guidelines as they tutored their young students, plus they could alter instruction to meet individual needs and focus on specific skills. Reading strategies such as book introductions through the use of predictions, word rings, and different types of reading were utilized. Additionally, language experience activities were conducted to strengthen comprehension skills and promote writing skills. Students were also afforded the opportunity to write teacher created sentences that related to the days reading and manipulate the text back into place after the sentences were cut up. Meanwhile, during snack time before the tutoring sessions would "officially" start, students were able to listen to books read aloud, study word families, conduct word sorts, and practice vocabulary.

Students were evaluated weekly by the use of a running record assessment and needed skills and strategies would be the center of focus for the day. Teachers modeled good reading behaviors, incorporated new vocabulary and higher level thinking skills, and used guided reading techniques to assist students in their learning. Overall, much was accomplished in a short period of time due to the fact that activities changed frequently so students did not become "bored" or uninterested in an activity. Plus, students took a hands-on approach to reading by manipulated individual words, sentences, word rings, and stories to increase their interest and motivate their learning in a non-competitive, supportive environment. …